Debt is a part of our nature. There’s no doubt that you’re used to seeing it: credit cards, car payments, mortgages, student loans, and the list goes on. We have all been convinced that this is just part of how life works. These pieces of debt can cripple you and keep you from living your best life today.
Only if you are a viable Bible thumper do you know the story of Nehemiah, but in my opinion he is one of the greatest leaders of the Bible, especially when it comes to money. Nehemiah started his life as a sort of Jewish slave to king Artaxerxes in Persia. As an older man, he became the cup holder for the king. One day, his brother comes to him and tells him that their homeland of Jerusalem is in shambles: the wall is destroyed and the economy is in the pits. There is four great things to take out of the story of Nehemiah, and i’ll bring them us as we go along:Moral Number One: Pray About it!
The first thing Nehemiah does before anything else is prays! He asks God for forgiveness for his people, and begs him to bless him and give him the ability to help his people. This is so great, he takes time to ask forgiveness for something he didn’t do and asks God for the ability to bless others. He at no point in this story ever asked for something for himself. Man! This is the exact prayer we need to be saying over our finances. Begging God’s forgiveness for the stupid things we’ve done, and ask God for the ability to bless other unconditionally.
Long story short, Nehemiah asks for Artaxerxes’s permission to fix Jerusalem, and the king allows him to go for a short period as long as he promises to return. At this point, the king appoints Nehemiah as the Governor of Jerusalem and gives him a ton of money and supplies to do it! What a blessing!Moral Number Two: Debt Keeps You From Doing Your Best
Nehemiah goes to Jerusalem and inspires everyone to band together and start building the wall. It goes great at first, but then he begins to notice everyone is distracted; not quite focused. When he inquires, he finds that most people were so indebted, they had actually used their wives and children as collateral and were running out of money.
This is usually the part where we start to judge the people and say “They had it coming. How stupid could they be!.” But not Nehemiah. He took money from his PERSONAL funds and used it to pay off every single person’s personal debts. In response to that the people were so inspired that work on the wall began to exponentially grow immediately.
Fun Extra Note: The Bible says the people were crippled by unbearable and overwhelmingly harsh interest. It gets so bad that Nehemiah actually calls the lendors to his home and calls them all robbers and destroyers of their homeland. Bible scholars have done research to find out what the interest was; do you know what it was? ELEVEN PERCENT! Can you believe that? That’s just slightly more than interest on a car and WAY less than you are paying on your credit card!
Moral Number 3: Live Under Your Means
When Governors usually came in from Persia, they would usually have the people pay for them and all of their followers food, entertainment, living, and wages through an additional tax. This is estimated to have been near a 25% tax! However, Nehemiah had the people give him NOTHING! He told them that he didn’t need those things, and he would live on his own money and for the people should use that money to focus on fixing the wall! This is one of the primary features that inspired the people to follow Nehemiah, and in the end it created exponentially great results!Moral Number 4: Get Your Payday in the End!
After Nehemiah applied these principles, Jerusalem had a strong, new wall built in FIFTY TWO DAYS! They built an entire wall around an entire city in 52 days on top of their jobs! After removing the risk of debt and living modestly for a small amount of time, their entire economy and city changed for the better in just fifty two days!
Israel was on the fast track to coming back from being enslaved by Persia, and you can get on the fast track to living in financial peace by living like Nehemiah! As Nehemiah showed, it doesn’t take a great king or a person born into wealth to change the world, it just takes someone willing to make the hard calls and live selflessly to help others. Are you ready to live like Nehemiah?